Feb. 18, 2011— -- $100,000 is hardly chump change. But 70-year-old Leroy Tessina, a former delivery man, estimates that's the amount of money he's spent on psychics, UFO paraphernalia and other paranormal pursuits over the past few decades. He nearly lost his house in the process.
Among his purchases: several trips to UFO-friendly Roswell, N.M., countless books on extraterrestrials, nearly a decade's worth of sessions with a personal psychic and even a special helmet that supposedly prevents aliens from reading his mind.
But Tessina, a Los Angeles man, said he's a believer no more.
After a mind-bending, life-changing journey with independent filmmaker Blake Freeman, Tessina said he's "reformed" and won't pay peddlers of the paranormal any longer.
"I was into sci-fi as a child and young man and I guess it just evolved from that. I let it rule my life," he said. "Blake told me, 'You screwed up for a while, but now let's go see if we can straighten you out.'
"He showed me the error of my ways, so to speak."
In 2008, the thirtysomething Freeman and the then-sixtysomething Tessina went off on a cross-country adventure to interview so-called experts on alien abductions, ghost hunting, crop circles, psychic healing and more ? all in an effort to expose the truth behind their wild, other-worldly claims.
"I didn't go into it telling [Tessina] right from the beginning that he was crazy and none of this stuff was real, because I didn't know what we were going to find out on the road," he said. "It was a learning lesson for me too."
Freeman said he'd been thinking of a documentary exploring the paranormal, but it wasn't until he met Tessina that he knew he'd found his subject.
"We ordered pizza and we were actually having a production meeting and, you're not going to believe it, but Leroy showed up at the door," he said. "The bill came to $88.88 and he started talking to me about numerology. ...[And he asked], did I see the UFO in the sky over L.A.? And I thought he was kidding, but he was dead serious."